Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Take a moment and prepare for the worst

It is amazing to me that in a world where movies and pop culture thrive on end of the world scenarios that there are still stories of people totally losing their minds over a storm.  I am not making light of Hurricane Matthew and what effect it will have on the world. I have many friends in its path.  What amazes me is that people are still caught off guard. Fights over bottled water, shelves being cleared of food, people not leaving their homes because they fear to forget something important.  We don't need to be "doomsday preppers."  We just need to be able to pick up and leave with little or no thought to how it will happen.  I am not a prepper, far from it, but I have been through some times where people "lose their minds"....  The Flint water crisis,  Toledo water contamination, the Black out that took out the east coast,  Blizzards, hurricanes, floods, locusts... these happen pretty often in our lives (ok not the locusts but a lot of the other stuff.)  Why aren't you ready?

This was going to be a simple Facebook post but it got away from me. I have many Facebook friends who have been posting of their experiences and while this blog post smacks of "I told you so" it is not my intention. Follow my thought here....

Your Governor just announced a state of emergency and by 3pm tomorrow you need to leave your home for somewhere "safe." Are you ready?

Truth be told I am not. My businesses aren't. My family isn't.

Yet this happened just yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina and I was planning on traveling there this weekend.   From Wilmington, NC to the Florida Keys, similar warnings are being issued.  People are clearing the store shelves... fights are happening... people are going to have to do without something.

There is a checklist and planning website put together by the Center For Disease Control that is pretty good.  Look at it now while you still have power and internet connectivity.... yep, those could go away.

Since I tend to shop for my family only once per week, I am pretty set to shelter in place for three days. We always have full cases of water in our house or the ability to fill water bottles. As far as having to evacuate, I really don't have a plan. That is something I am going to work on.

Another good website is

With all that is going on it is probably a good idea to take a moment and at least think about it.  Make yourself ready so you don't have to concern yourself when the next "big thing" happens.

Let me know your thoughts... all the best!

Friday, August 12, 2016

The new world

It never seems to amaze me how so many people in this world go through life seeking adversaries instead of partners.

First some back story.  I have spent the past couple of month connecting with some amazing people all of which have something to offer this world in a positive way.  I have created friendships that I know will last a long time and I have had great experiences and, more importantly, learned a few things.  I have made some personal strides in my personality and have tried to do my best to become more a role model than I used to be. To me there is nothing more important than being able to spend time with people and have conversations offline, but rather face to face.

One of my bosses from years back once taught me "there is no emotion in email"  The thing is that we read something online and we tend to put the emotion that we are feeling into it.   Some people are just angry people so they will read whatever they want to read as a negative.   This is true in conversation and relationships.  How many times have we typed something, re read it and then looked at it again and added a :) at the end to soften the blow and prevent misinterpretation. Our world is manipulated by emoticons rather than taking the time to talk on the phone or in person.

I am constantly reminded that there are awesome people in my life.  There are also a few complete jerks.  I know, I had times where I was more of the latter rather than the former. The past six months have been a journey of development for me where I have been doing my best to rid myself of anger and negativity which, in turn, has made me reconsider my relationships with negative people and people who do not necessarily have my best interests in mind.  Thing is that I like (liked) a number of them.  It is difficult to endure negativity when you are looking to better yourself.  It's difficult not to take it as a personal affront when one of your "friends" supports a competitor instead of you.   It is also difficult to look at things in a clinical, objective way without the emotion associated with it.  Before I make a decision about someone I ask myself "what do I like about this person"... sometimes the answer is "nothing" but in reality most people have something to offer.  Once I find the attribute I enjoy in a relationship then I seek what is bothering me in the interaction. Measuring the pros and cons I make a choice.  Sometimes that choice is to just agree to go our separate ways. Other times, especially when there is a professional need to interact,  I do so in as professional way as I can but no longer let them influence me or my inner circle. In no way are they allowed back into my private life.  

On to my point.  In the partnerships that I have with people, those who choose to be partners benefit from me as much as I benefit from them.  This is a true "win- win."  These partnerships are far rarer than I would have ever imagined and before the introspection of the past six months I would have doubted their true existence.  The industry that I am in seem wrought with people who believe the "other guy" is their competition.   In this day and age the competition is the need to look at everything adversarial rather than cooperative. The competition is the absolute addiction we have to our phones and the internet.  I know for a fact that I can give up my phone for a day or two,  could you?  I could name at least 10 examples of interactions that were adversarial that did not need to be.  A lender doing what he could to destroy the business of the person borrowing money,  the landlord who looks for ways to nickle and dime their tenants through fees and miscommunication,  the dive shop owner who badmouths their competition instead of looking for ways to partner with them,  the angry individual who thought the grass was greener but found it wasn't, blames the company he left...   the list could go on and on.

Be done with it.   In social media its easy.  Block them, unfriend them,  move on.   Sure, they will trash you but you just won't have to follow it.   There are people who read blogs like this one or in my case listen to my podcast to look for any reason to be critical.  Don't be "that guy!"  If this is your reason for reading something, the problem is you, not them.  

It doesn't always have to be adversarial.  It doesn't have to be us vs. them.

Yesterday a young man came into the dive shop who had worked for me about a year and a half ago.  He had been going through some personal issues and had just decided not to show up again for work... before yesterday I didn't know what happened to him.  He came in yesterday, a year and a half or so later, just to apologize.   He also thanked me for giving him a shot and for showing him that his life was more than flipping burgers.  He now had a house, a strong relationship, and a great sales job.   He was one who changed, he (through influences I am sure) thought me his adversary while I was trying to make him better.  The light clicked on and his world changed.

A quote I find awesome.  "Winners focus on winning, losers focus on winners."   This is so true.  Ask yourself where your focus lies.

Aspire to greatness, don't belittle it.  Work towards improving others and your own world will grow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Whole 30, Back on track after a break...

July is a fantastic month for me!

It is the peak of the dive season, the pinnacle of Midwest Diving and some of the most amazing trips for getting to know people and seeing the best that Michigan has to offer.  The month starts with the holiday, every weekend there is something diving related and ends with an epic fundraiser at White Star Quarry.

July is also a month for eating what other people are making... i.e.  a bad month for a fad diet.  So I took the month off from eating "right" and put the whole 30 aside.  I had hit a plateau anyway so why not take a break for the month.  

The result?  I feel like total crap.

Over the course of (moderately) sticking to the diet I realized that there were certain things that did not do well with my body and certain things that didn't seem to matter.  The occasional desert? No worse than a headache the next day.  Adult beverages?  No drawbacks except that they just made me sleepy. Processed foods seemed to be the real killer.   Over a month though it added up.  A month of keeping sort of with the portions but not with the reading of labels really took its toll.

To be fair I did spend the month diving more than usual but towards the past week or so the aches and pains came back.  The stress built up in my shoulders and my mood darkened.  It seems that we really are slowing digging our graves with our teeth. The only good thing about this "experiment" was that there were no violent reactions towards anything I ate.  I was worried that once I cut it out of my diet it would be difficult to process some foods. Back to the beginning and the whole 30.

It is harder it seems to really be a strict disciplinarian about my diet now that I have adjusted but along with everything else I gained some weight back.  I don't want to be "that guy..." ever... so I am back to a strict regimen.  Back to the diet that I know works for me.

So yesterday was day one.  I fell off the wagon a little at dinner when my salad came with cheese and some crispy things that were probably poison.   It is going to be tougher than last time to stick with it because fast food is way more convenient and reading labels on everything just plain sucks.  And I will miss Beer and ice cream.  But, as I have been preaching to everyone who wishes to know and everyone who reads this blog (all five of you,)  Anyone can do anything for just 30 days.  So time to get back on track.

Start today.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A simple accomplishment...

Just before I fell off the grid for a week, my good friend and dive buddy on many dives, Aaron Oaks posted that he had just completed the epic accomplishment of 200 logged dives.  Since I had been made aware that posting in the 100's is a big deal (on the 100th and 1000th dive you are supposed to make the dive naked or so they tell me) I wondered if on the Isle Royale would I make a century dive. 

As it turns out, if I worked a little at it I could.  I needed to double up on two of the dive sites. As it worked out, the rebreather let me do two additional dives as no decompression dives even though the previous dive had been to normal no decompression limits and my surface interval was about 10 minutes including the time at the safety stop.  Love theses machines. 

On the last dive of the trip, on the epic dive site known as the Chisholm Engine,  I made my 3600th logged dive with Jill Synowiec, Wayne Rush, Jack Papas, Monica Dobies with Jesse Rush and Capt. Ryan Staley watching topside.  The trip was epic and the pictures will be posted at the Divers Incorporated Blog in the coming days on on the Divers inc Facebook pages.

 Hope you are along with me on the destination for the 3700th dive... if my life is consistent it should be in Bonaire...   March 2017.. you need to be there.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The problem with raising your standards

Since the CDTC I have been faced with a dilemma.

While I was in Punta Cana, the people that I associated with were of the highest caliber.  True, we were all working towards a purpose, but the true character of truly remarkable people emerged.  The dilemma I face is that I want them daily in my life without any possibility of that happening.

While I have talked or communicated with most of the Aquanauties on an almost daily basis since the CDTC and have had some awesome times with others, I find that I am setting the bar in my daily interactions to that standard.  In some cases, such as my wife, manager and many friends it is an easy goal to achieve, in others I find that they just don't stack up.  Many are ok with me helping them achieve greatness, others are content with mediocrity.  Some would rather bring me down to their level rather than allow me to bring them up to mine. It is hard to explain other than this: While the awesomeness is amazing, the mediocrity is frustrating... hence my dilemma.

This evening I spent a couple of hours with someone who is truly of a remarkable caliber.  I had not seen her since we both graduated high school together 30 years ago. The conversation that we had was if we had never parted and it gave me another characteristic of a truly remarkable human being. In the conversation afterwards my wife and I tried to describe to each other what we had experienced. The answer was simple, events are more important than things, people are more important than events.  What good is a selfie compared to a groupie?  While you may experience a place what does that compare to experiencing a soul?

Philosophy aside the answer is simple.  Spend time with people and put your phone away. Spend time with people because they are awesome.  If you find you are with people and have a desire to be elsewhere, change your people.  

The simple explanation is this:

If people make you better, spend time with them.....if people need help, help them... if people are beyond help, spend some time trying to encourage them and do what you can for them... if people are destructive and negative, thank them and move on.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ran out of time at the CDTC... but this happened!

I started with some awesome aspirations to write a blog entry every day but by day three it became too much work to add to what I had to do already. I actually had to blog as part of a marketing contest we were doing so I didn't want to let my group down by doing this one.  More to come but the simple truth of the matter is that I passed the program.

I am a PADI Course Director!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day Two - PADI CDTC Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

It was an emotionally trying day.  As much as I tried I could not get over my nervousness.  The level of understanding and empathy that I have for my fellow candidates and for future IDC Students is something that, If nothing else, is the biggest take-away from this program.  That and the people that I am working with on my team.  They are simply the best.  We have people from all over the world on my team and they are amazingly talented individuals.   It is a joy to work with them and after today I feel that they will be people that I keep in touch with forever.  The other candidates are equally as talented, we have just been concentrating on working with our team.

So the day was supposed to be a day where we lecture in the morning,  do our first confined water presentation and out first confined water evaluation in the ocean in confined open water.  I had sat up late and prepared, double checked my outline and I was ready.   Then we had an announcement just before lunch.  We were not going to confined water in the ocean but were going to be using the pool and we needed to prepare our second confined water evaluation. We were given about an hour and a half for that preparation and lunch.  The nerves came back.

The level of perfection that I witnessed in the pool was awe inspiring,  the first three presentations given were flawless and it increased my anxiousness. I was the first evaluator.  Needless to say I was really confident but when you give a person such remarkable scores you get the feeling you may have done something wrong.   You see, as an evaluator we have to match the scores of the control or CD -Trainer who is also evaluating.   That has, in the past been something I excelled at so the only part I was concerned about was that I would miss something.  There were nearly 50 people sharing the pool.

When it came time for me to do my presentation I choked a little.  Got through it, knew I had made a mistake and also knew that I didn't have to be perfect just score better than average.  

When it was all over we waited for the CDTC Trainer to give us our scores and counsel us on the mistakes we made.  Other than being the last one to sit for it, it was the best experience because I was able to remedy my nervousness and self doubt a bit.   I had passed...  with a perfect match on the evaluation and only having missed two of the possible points on the confined water presentation.  I know that they will not happen again.

Passed the second day.  Win!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day One of the PADI CDTC in Punta Cana, DR

Day one is complete and I have a new empathy towards new instructors and even those divers who are learning a new skill or taking a new class.  I have been diving with sharks, places no one has ever been before, under ice, and a myriad of other challenging locations.  Never in my life have I been so apprehensive as yesterday when I stood up and introduced myself to 50 of the most talented diving instructors in the world today.   I was literally shaking when it was all over.  I will get through this but I guess the enormity of it all hit me at that moment.

Today was about orientation in the morning,  standards testing and in the afternoon we had a rescue diver workshop and a confined water evaluation workshop.   As much as I thought I knew I learned a ton and I am happy to say I passed all the evaluation points that were needed on this first day.   The course directors who are running the course are top shelf, approachable and ready to help. They are there to take us from wherever we happen to be and make us better.  I have no self-doubt about my abilities after yesterday, I just worry I will miss something.   The level of empathy that I have learned and the people I have met just this first day have made the trip worth it.  From a standpoint of the connections I have made with people who I may never have met otherwise makes this a goal worth attaining.

Today we have more classroom programs in the morning then in the afternoon we are doing our first confined water presentation/evaluation.   We play the role of students, Course Directors and Evaluators today and we get to do it in the ocean which is really exciting.  

Mentally this first day was exhausting but the support we get from the people that are here helps a lot and the fellow candidates bring to the program a level of energy that is unmatched in my recent experience.

I am looking forward to today even though I am still a bit nervous, my confidence is growing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

PADI Course Director - Becoming a PADI Instructor Trainer #PADICDTC

This is an edit/repost from the Divers Incorporated Blog with an added dimension.  I wanted to let you know some of the details of my preparation and for people who follow me it will be interesting, for people who just follow diving, not so much.   You can read the other blog at

For the past three months I have been working on getting accepted to attend and then working on getting all my ducks in a row to become a PADI Course Director.  In non diving terms it is a position that will allow me to train scuba instructors and basically become an instructor trainer.   Its kind of a big deal with a lott of work involved.  I have to do a business plan, take tests, participate in workshops, take more tests,do some online training and basically prove to the powers that be at PADI that I am worthy of their confidence in me.  World wide only 50 people get the opportunity out of hundreds of applicants.  I am one of those people here to make it happen.

Long story short,  I didn't want to get this far and then mess it a up so I have been actually training for it.  I participated in programs to better myself and 27 days ago I began again the whole30 program.   I am going to keep on it for the duration of the program or until I really need a beer, whichever comes first. :)

I am in the best shape of my life. I even bought some new dive gear to be sure everything works as expected.  Today I feel fantastic and now that I am actually here and have gotten to walk around and relax I am ready.

So here is what I know.  The program that I embarking on is going to be an intense couple of weeks where they take you from wherever you are now and make you better.  They have a vested interest in you (me) becoming the best course director that PADI has ever seen. So myself and fifty or so other people from 20 countries who speak 5 different languages are going to spend the next couple of weeks working towards that goal.   I will know more after tomorrow but in case it really is that intense and I am unable to keep up with this blog like I want to the other basic understanding is that they are going to break the group up into smaller groups and that smaller group will consist of 7 - 8 Course Director Candidates who's soul purpose in life over the next few days  is to make the other 6 or 7 people in their groups outstanding course directors.  Piece of cake right?

In any case I am here, whole.  I have my stuff.  I am more relaxed than I was this morning.  Diet, habits, practice, paper writing, studying...   all have been my goal over the past two months.   I am ready for whatever they throw at us.

On another note this resort where we are at is beautiful.   The PUNTA CANA Westin Resort. It is a little too much in the way of a "timeshare" for me to be comfortable with it as a dive resort, but it has palm trees, warm water, sand and a bar.   All the necessities for what I will have to assume is the most challenging of the PADI courses.  I just do not want to mess this up so I prepped hard for it.  I am in great shape and a new path is opened before me.

Today was a long day of travelling and tomorrow starts early.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Making the most of my time - Delving into the complexities of the World Wide Web

I will admit it.   When it comes to all things related to the world wide web, its complexities are lost on me most of the time.   I have a rudimentary understanding and some fantastic support people, but the world of the web scares me while at the same time fascinates me.   I want to support my business best, myself at times and if you know how to work it, the WWW promises both.  You can obtain information about everything from the grotesque to the beautiful, from the benign to the malignant, from the sane to the psychopathic.  For something that is just coding and numbers it is pretty downright amazing.

Rich is up working late
All I wanted to do was link a blog to a website. After about 8 hours and a whole mess of heading down the wrong paths I did it.  I have built it, but will they come.

This one is an experiment to see if I can make something work on a website that, if I have to shut it off, would not affect my business in any way.  Do this to or and it could have everlasting effects on the way things work for me. Lets just say that while I know what I know, I am painfully aware of what I don't know. The amazing part is the community of friends that I have who would be willing to help me out should I completely put myself on the beach so to speak.

While I have been doing the whole scuba business thing for about 30 years it is not as simple as it once was.  As far as the diving industry is concerned I am way ahead of the curve.  As far as the potential something like this has, the stress of making a blog with real content is as daunting as my first podcast.

We shall see how it goes.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Migration of Posts - Adding some of the older stuff to this blog.

It seems that I have a lot more to talk about than just scuba diving.   I do have a bunch of really cool posts in my divers incorporated blog and a few appear in both.  This blog is primarily for my own benefit since I do, from time to time want to have a conversation with my future self.  What you will see if you are keeping score is a couple of  "new" posts that were from a few years ago.  Bear with me and I will get back on track.   The reason for the migration, in case you are curious, is that I recently went to the PADI Business Academy and there it was suggested that we incorporated a blog into our web pages, since I will be doing that shortly I figured I should sort out the diving from the personal.

Thanks for reading, its great to have you along for the ride.

Low Maintenance Daughters Cool Birthday Wish

Originally Published on November 12, 2014 on the Divers Incorporated Blog - moved here for your amusement. 

This isn't so much about diving as it is about a cool outing from my past.   You see, for their 9th birthday my twins wanted something cool. In trade for a birthday party they wanted to get their passports and then take a trip to Canada.   This wasn't at all unreasonable and it would cost the same so Jill and I decided to go for it.  As it turns out the problem would be finding a free day to take them.

Today was that day.

We got up early and headed out with a plan A and a plan B.  The first goal was for the girls to see the USA from the Canadian side.  The second goal was to see Fort Malden.  The British Fort that launched the Battle of Lake Erie.   I had a goal to take the girls to see a relic of my childhood, I was just not sure if it could be done without a boat.   I was happy to say that it was both easier and better than expected.

 The main goal for me was to see Boblo Island. An amusement park that my parents took us when I was little.   I vaguely remember the first time that I was there but I really remember the year that I was finally 48 inches tall.  That was the magical height where you could ride both the little kids rides and most of the adult rides.   The girls were both about that age and height.

Our adventure started when we crossed the Ambassador Bridge over to Canada.  The Jill, the girls and I all answered all the questions of the customs officer on the Canadian side and he was able to actually stamp their passports!  We got over to Canada and to my dismay google maps didn't work over there (I had set it up so I thought that it would) so I had to use "the Force" to find my way around.  Good thing that there were excellent signs to Amherstburg, Canada our ultimate destination for this go-around.  We stopped briefly in La Salle, Ontario, Canada so the girls could get their first glimpse of Grosse Ile, the island that I grew up on and that they had visted often, as recently as yesterday.  We were able to see some recognizable landmarks including the chapel that Jill and I got married in.   They had fun in a park nearby playing on a "Canadian" Play set.  The gravel underneath was the most noticeable contrast to the American, over-pasteurized play sets.

Traveling down the road a bit more we came to Amherstburg.  This little town was pretty cool... there was a park overlooking the "hole-in-the-wall" and the entrance to Crystal Bay. All Relics from my childhood and adolescence.  In Amherstburg we hit the first bump.  I was hoping that the rumors of the closing of a favorite restaurant from the past were untrue since there were billboards advertising it on the way in. It was unfortunately all closed up.  BUT!  The ferry to Boblo was just past it and it was a whole lot easier than I expected it to be.   We drove up just as the ferry was making its landing.   I got out of the car and went and talked to the Captain as he was stepping off the Ferry.  It seems that for $20 you can take your car across the river and drive through the neighborhood once.  Then you could park the car and walk around the remnants of the amusement park at your leisure.  There were some rules to follow and the weather was cooperative  so it turned out to be an amazingly awesome experience. The only thing that I wish I would have done was to research it a little more ahead of time.  There was a lot more there than I had anticipated.   I relied on a 40 year old set of memories of a time that was long past.  But the girls were thrilled and this was all about them after all. If you are one of the thousands of people who have visited Boblo in your childhood I highly recommend the visit.  I think that next time I am going to do things differently.  It seems that if you want to do a major photoshoot there you just have to pay a licensing fee of $100 and you can use your big camera. Since I didn't want to push it too much, not knowing what was there, I just walked around and shot pictures with my phone.

After an amazing couple of hours, and leaving some things for next time, we went for lunch in Amherstburg.   This little town had a couple of taverns and restaurants and are right in the open and at the same time difficult to find.  There isn't much in the way of parking so we parked and walked and found a delightful place called the Artesian Grill.  Great food and the first change that Natalie and Oliva noticed in food. Sometimes Shirley temples are made differently and they were totally happy with the choice.   They had been shown some of the differences, washrooms instead of restrooms, neighbours and other words spelled differently, the money differences and the KM/H on the speed limit signs but this one directly affected them.  The best fries and amazing food.  With Full bellies we headed for Forth Malden.  Only to find that it was closed for the winter.  Bummer.  We headed out on a different mission.  After filling the trunk of Jills car with Canadian Beer and Cider we zig-zagged through Windsor looking for a playground.  The girls wanted one more run around a playset.   No luck finding one though. Jill suggested Belle Isle and the day got a lot better.

We crossed back to the USA through  the tunnel clearing customs was fun with lots of questions for the girls after I told the customs officer that this was their birthday present.   He didn't have his stamp for their passports but he let us through without problems.

Off to Belle Isle.

This was pretty cool since the girls had never been there.  They saw the fountain and a good view of the Ren Cen then they had to use the bathroom so we went to the Casino to take care of that.   Then to the Aquarium to find IT WAS OPEN!!! YAAYYYY!!!

I had not been in the Aquarium in some time.  The Belle Isle Aquarium is one of the oldest Aquariums still in operation in the USA. When it closed in 2009 the aquarium was the longest continuously open aquarium at 104 years.   It is almost the same as it was during my childhood.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done but this is a pretty amazing time capsule.  This was super fun.  Afterwards we did a tour of the nearby conservatory  and got our dose of warm tropical air.  Te twins ran in the garden afterwards and then we headed home.   On the way was the hands, down most amazing outdoor playset that I have ever seen.  The girls got their final birthday wish.

Amazing day for a set of amazing kids.  Cannot wait to do it again!!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Skinny Clothes - Life story beyond the Whole 30

So Jill and I have been so busy lately that today I ran out of jeans to wear. Since this whole 30 diet thing started, I haven't given much thought to how loose my clothes have been on me. For those of you who know me best, you know that I am not a slave to fashion. This morning, having a little bit of time to kill before I left for a morning meeting I climbed into one of my storage areas and grabbed some clothes from a few years ago. I was thinking that I may have something not horribly small that I might fit into.

The first shirt and pair of jeans I grabbed fit. And they fit well. Goldilocks well. Chalk another project that I have to do on the board, now its time to pull out my skinny clothes and see what fits. There goes a day. Good thing my fashion hasn't changed in two decades.

I have not been on the diet formally for about two weeks but I am still eating as if I was. For those times that I have strayed there have been some interesting results. It seems beer tastes way better and if it is top shelf, microbrew stuff there seems to be no repercussions. McDonald's is another story. Wow is that poison. I had to eat it due to convenience for a couple of days in a row and I got some sensitive skin under my wedding ring and on my legs. After a couple of days of lots of water and eating back on the plan, it is clearing up. Gonna need to make sure I pack lunch more often.

My summer is starting and diving will become more of a weekly thing so I may not have to start formall exercise just yet. I have been keeping track of the stuff I eat (something you are not supposed to do on the plan) to see if there are changes like the one above that I can avoid. I have been delving into those foods that I put away on the diet the first time to see if there are things I wouldn't be sensitive to. Some things are fine. Others, not so much. Its funny that Beer is ok but bread is not. Cheese is really bad. I am scared to try chili again. Other stuff I wake up the next day like coming off of a three day, tropical island, where-all-I drink-is-rum kind of bender. Those mornings aren't all that much fun.

I am a coffee connoisseur now, or at least I am becoming one. Hard to believe since I only drink it black. whodathunkit?

I have created a couple of recipes that have moderate success and I love some of the spices that I am working with.

I am going to be going through my pantry again soon with a different motivation. Time to donate the stuff (poisons) that I know I won't ever eat again.

I am now down three pant sizes, and one shirt size since this whole thing started. I have more energy that I thought possible. (the coffee probably helps) I have a fantastic outlook on life.

If you are not satisfied with how you feel you should really try doing this program. Its free and I am not a paid spokesman, just someone who tried it.

I have talked with a lot of friends about the program, they ask about it, I tell them about it and it usually ends with "oh I don't think I could ever give up (fill in the blank here)" Or "I couldn't live without (fill in the blank here)" Personally, I thought the very same thing. Knowing what I know now and how I feel now, I wish I could go back and prevent all the damage I may have caused myself with the borderline high blood pressure, insecurities and pessimism.

Its only 30 days. One month. If you have made it through reading this blog I know you could give up anything for 30 days.

If you need motivation I am here for you.

And I will have a beer with you on Day 31.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Whole 30: This will probably be the way I eat for the rest of my life

I am pretty sure that this will be, more or less, the way that I eat for the rest of my life.  I feel fantastic and without following the strict letter of the law on this one I still lost another 8lbs.   The weight loss has been fantastic, but the overall feeling of health and well being has been even better.  

This past 30 days I went off diet Six times,  two slices of pizza that would have been wasted, once for an amazing Creme Brule, once for an ice cream  (it was small), an unbelievable tres leche cake, and a couple glasses of wine (they are grapes Right?) and the loaded cheeze bread in Port Jefferson New York was totally "NOT FAIR."   I also didn't concern myself as much as I did before with the oils that food was cooked in, butter as a cooking agent, bacon, and the oil for salads.   As things worked out during this whole 30 I ate out a lot, for at least 12 of the 30 days so I was really surprised at the weight loss.

All in all I think what started out as an experiment will end up being more permanent.   I am going to see what happens over the next two weeks to see what comes of it. I had pizza this evening (sure to regret it) and I want CAKE! but  other than the occasional social events I am going to do my best to keep on the program.  I can't think of a downside other than it takes a little more "thinking" to figure out what I am going to eat.

The next two weeks or so will be telling.  If my weight bumps up even a little,  I will go back to being strict about it,  if the stress returns to my shoulders, I will go back on it,  if I find that I am angry at stupid things I will go back on it. Right now I want CAKE!  But I had pizza instead.  It wasn't that good.  Over the next few weeks I am going to use up some of the stuff that is borderline (like chili and some of my soups)  and not replace them.   I am going to continue to call candy bars and pop "poison."

All things in moderation but I know that I will never have high fructose corn syrup ever again if I can help it. Corn will never be back in my diet no matter what, popcorn is also a goner.  I think I am also done with pop except for a rare exception.  I am done with Ketchup and BBQ sauce and done with coffee creamers.  When I can find alternatives I will take them but so far its been fun cooking "healthy" and it has been an amazing ride watching myself get skinnier.  Would like to see if I can drop 13 more lbs to get where I was when I finished my first year of college (I was 145lbs when I finished High School so I am not going to try that.)   Diet has been all that I have done so far,  if I hit a plateau I will go back to being super careful, watch the calories and maybe (he types with a shudder) exercise.

If you want to challenge yourself I highly recommend the whole 30 program.  I know you love beer,  I know you love CAKE!  I know that you can't live without your double frappa-mocha-creamsicle-whipcream-dairy-delight Starbucks, I LOVE RUM!  But give yourself 30 days, a real 30 days where you do not cheat.   Follow the program as outlined at  and stick to it.   I would not have believed it.   It's free. No calorie counting, you can eat potatoes and meat and other carbs.  I am not a spokesperson for the company, just someone who was happy to have found it.

I know you once told yourself "I would do anything to lose weight and feel better (except eat right and exercise)"  The "eat right" in this program is easy, eat what they tell you, as much as you want.  And I lost 26 lbs without any added exercise.    I will let you know how the journey goes from here.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Whole 30 - Round Two

Motivations come in weird packages.  

About a month ago I finished with the Whole 30 program and if you read my previous blog on this page you know my feelings about the success of that program.  I was amazed at the physical energy I felt, the lack of internal stresses and the feeling of DOOM that sometimes threatened to overcome my senses. 

Right after my first round of 30 came I did my best to keep on the diet. For the most part I didn't run out an binge on CAKE (i dreamed about black forest cake almost nightly)  and I stayed away from baked goods. I kept dairy to a minimum and also the added sugars but I went about my life not being as careful as I was during the diet.  I did however have PIZZA the first night off the diet and the next day regretted it (felt really bad.) The whole30 diet is to make you have better all around health, the weight loss is an added bonus. 

Also during that two week hiatus, I had a trip to Bonaire planned with a group from my shop, Divers Incorporated.  The thing with island life is that you are never sure what the boat will bring in so you can't be too choosy when it comes to food.  Also the ingredients are not normally something that you can choose from easily.  Breakfast would be easy, eggs and bacon are usually ok but I wanted to make sure that my newly cleansed system wouldn't violently reject my sudden change in diet.   So the week previous I made sure that I at least tried a lot of the stuff that I would be eating in Bonaire.   The results were mixed.  While I didn't have the violent reaction that I feared, eating what used to be a "normal" diet of  a hot dog and chili for lunch, chicken chunks at Kate and Al's (bar/ diner)  and a beer gave me the equivalent of a five-day-bender hangover the next day.  After that I was careful but not crazy.  I didn't pay attention to what ingredients went into everything that I ate but I was careful not to overindulge in the grains and dairy.   I did try RUM though.  The thought of going to Bonaire and not being able to partake in the awesome ROM RICON from the Cadushy Distillery was a thought more horrible than the food hangover.   So I tried it and I ate carefully that day.   No hangover the next day (YAY!) 

In Bonaire, I found that my newly discovered health made hauling gear that much easier.  I felt like a super hero most of the time and the stress of my normal life seemed gone.   The food did make me feel a little funky and I am sure it was the food because I ate sandwiches most of the time.   I did indulge myself with an amazing Creme Brule on the second night but decided what I felt like the next morning made it not that worth it.   It seemed I had grown accustomed to "feeling good" in the morning and wanted to keep my (off plan) dietary stuff to the necessities.   I was careful with my snacks too,  paid for cashews and apples and dried fruit (it was a fortune there) but I was able to skip a few meals at the cafe and ate in. 

When I got home I weighed in and for the first time in 15 years I had actually lost weight on a dive trip.   I figured that there was something to this whole30 life style.  I was not sure that I wanted to do the program in its severity again but I would try to figure out better ways of eating.

But there was a very real component to the two week hiatus that I had failed to mention.   Right before I left for Bonaire, my professional aspirations required that I get a doctors ok to go scuba diving.   I want to be a Course Director and one of the prerequisites is that you get a check up.   So in I went to my doctors,  my doctor is a diver and I have known him at least 35 years.  We are nearly the same age and I told him all about this amazing diet I was on and how I had lost so much weight.   Since I had not seen him in 3 years (wow that time went by fast)  He pulled up my old chart and astonished me with the fact that after losing nearly 20 lbs,  I was 4lbs heavier than when he last saw me.  By the guidelines of  the Recreational Scuba Training council I was in perfect health for diving.  By the guidelines of the medical profession I was borderline obese.  By the guidelines of the Boy Scouts of America for adult counselors in their  High Adventure programs  I would be benched. 

How is that for a kick in the head?

Now I am on Day 13 of my second round of whole30.   I think I am still losing weight but I am not allowed to check until the 30 days are over.   I have had great success keeping with it and I have high hopes for the fact that I may be able to drop some more of my excess weight.   I look skinnier which is nice and my complexion has cleared up a bit.  Mentally I am a bit more focused and happier.  I think I drink too much coffee and Holy Cow do I eat a lot.   This blog page was motivated by some research I did this morning (Easter Sunday) as I craved the lbs of jelly beans that My kids got from the Easter Bunny,  lbs of diabetic poison that came from a rodent is what I tell myself to keep away.  The research was prompted on the whole calories issue.    I have not been keeping track at all,  you are not supposed to.  In this diet the thought is that if you keep away from the easy sugars your body gets more used to making what you need and discarding the rest from the proteins and fats you consume.    But I tell you,  my rough guess from the past two days is in the neighbor hood of 3000 calories a day and I am actually eating less than my first time through.   Just amazing.   Every article read the same thing.  No counting or tracking.  Journal how you feel.  

And this cool article about what to expect:  I didn't read this the first time and probably should have. 

I also wish I would have read that prior to discussions with friends.   Since it is spring, people I have not seen since last season have been stopping by work or popping in my life and noticing my weight loss and probably noticing my more cheerful, less stressed demeanor.    I happily tell them about the whole30 and tell them to do their own research.  Most people cannot fathom giving up grains, alcohol, dairy, etc.  I probably couldn't either at the time but now they are mostly poisons to me.  Change came in the form of a 30 day habit.   It wasn't hard, I didn't need to exercise (if I don't drop weight this go around I will change that) and I feel great.   

The biggest thing happening this time around is that my clarity of what is important in my life has become laser focused and crystal clear.  Cutting a lot of emotionally draining objects, tasks and people from my life has become my new step in the 30 day process and I think that is a weight off my shoulders more important than the weight off my waistline.

Looking forward to what the next 17 days will bring to me with this program.   If you have tried it out and need some encouragement, I am here for you.  Just leave a comment below.  God Luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Diving into the Whole 30

This a post about a diet.  I want to be a better diver so I need to have a better functioning body.  I am well on my way because of this change in my behavior.  Enjoy the story - Rich

Since about mid October I have been keenly aware that something is just not right.  I  was tired, ached a lot, carried a lot of stress and had been struggling with my weight all summer.  I was beginning to "Feel My Age."  I wanted to do something about it but never could find the time.   A meme that I saw comes to mind,  "I would do anything to lose weight except eat right and exercise."  Seriously though, it was something I wanted to do but the only thing that seemed to work was binge drinking Monster Rehabs to take away the cravings.   Not wanting to dig an early grave I gave up Monsters last fall and started back on coffee.   I had it with lots of creamer but no added sugar.

I started reading a lot about how diet could be the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety along with weight gain and difficulty sleeping.  Not sure where to turn I started back to counting calories and controlling portions.

Then the Holidays arrived.  Out the door went counting calories, and I gained back the little that I lost.  The link between my stress and diet never occurred to me since I own my own businesses and stress is part of the formula. 

While on vacation at Christmas, our host, Sue O'Brien started telling my wife about a diet called the WHOLE 30.  She said that it was simple, free to follow on their website, and if you were creative in the kitchen (like I am) not all that out of the realm of enjoyment even though it seemed to be one of the strictest diets I had ever seen.  I had been reading a book called "Grain Brain" by Dr. Pearlmutter.  That book had horror stories about what  an improper diet could do to you later in life and I was sure I was on the right path to my own well being. Thing was that Dr. Pearlmutter was all about supplements and I am not a big pill guy.  He was also about gut health and that wasn't something that interested me.  

Back home and Done with the Holidays and a family time share trip at the end of January, my wife, Jill, and I started looking into the program that Sue had told us about. It looked easy to do but tough to stick to. Jill was totally for it and so, by default to keep it easy, I was too.  Jill had gone gluten free out necessity a few years back so I was keenly aware of the problems associated with trying to separate diets.  This diet was similar to the elimination diet but it took out a lot of those "Safe" foods too. 

I did my research, (and I suggest you do the same) about the diet outlined at WHOLE30.COM.  It  was super simple and although at first glance it seemed extreme it really wasn't. It did take away most of my favorite snacks, took my drinks away and reduced my favorite beverage to a cold, black, bitter mess (much like my heart) but it was simple.  The why's  and how it worked escaped me at the time but that was way above my pay grade anyway. 

Here are the Basics: 
  • No Grains - Nothing, Nada, Nilch - No Rice, Quinoa,  nothing even on the elimination diet. No grains what so ever. Period.  Goodbye bread, biscuts, crescent rolls and CAKE!!! (I missed Cake!)
  • No Dairy of any kind,  No butter, No margarines (they were mostly made with grains) Nothing.  There was a clarified butter exception to this but I didn't need it. 
  • No Legumes No beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans nor anything made with Soy. (I absolutely had no idea how many things contain soy.  Canned TUNA is made with Soy as their vegetable broth) There are a couple of exceptions that I will get to and they are all listed on
  • No Alcohol - Not even for cooking - All alcohol contains sugar and also fall under the no grain rule.  No smoking was allowed either but that didn't affect me. 
  • No MSG, Sulfites, Carrageenan - There goes Chinese take out. 
  • No Added Sugar or sweeteners of Any Kind - Including sugar substitutes. NO added sweeteners with one exception that I will get to.  It is amazing how many foods add sweeteners... some for no apparent reason. 
After all the NOs I was looking for a couple of  "Yesses" and they had a couple. You could have green beans, snap peas and snow peas even though they were technically legumes.  You could have fruit juice added as a sweetener, you could have vinegar and you could have salt.  No limit to quantities either. 

Armed with these rules I attacked our kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer.  I figured if I got it out of sight we wouldn't be tempted.  I moved everything we were not allowed to have out of the area and pretty much stripped it bare.   I tell you, after taking out all the stuff we could not have my fridge looked like the one I had in college after my Mom shopped for me.  We had broccoli and Franks hot sauce but little else.   I saved it all figuring after 30 days I would want a break and I hate wasting things.  AND my kids didn't need or want to be on it since it was mostly stuff they wouldn't eat anyway.   But It was empty.  From there I had to restock.  I took the list of stuff that was on the WHOLE30.COM shopping list and went out to the store.   I read every package for ingredients.  Did you know that corn syrup, corn oil, peanut oil and Soy are in EVERYTHING!  For those things that aren't containing the above they added sugar.   My list was simple and although it was a little more specific than this it did not have to be. 

We could eat a ton of stuff: What I ended up liking the most was the following
  • Black coffee - At first it was horrible but I learned to like it as the toxic sugars left my body
  • Nuts - We could have tons of different nuts but I had to roast a lot of them myself.  Almost all nuts were roasted in peanut oil.  We ended up going through tons of Pistachios after finding the ones with no shells. 
  • Almost all Vegetables - We loved veggies so this became easy. 
  • Almost all Fruits - Although it was difficult to find them without preservatives or added sugars dried fruits became a mainstay in our house 
  • Almost all meats, chicken, beef and seafood.   There were few exceptions.  Bacon was a disappointment.  The only bacon that did not have added sugar was the low sodium stuff. 
  • Eggs  - These were a God Send.  We boiled them and kept them ready for lunches. 
  • Tuna Fish - Once we found a canned tuna without soy or oils we couldn't have we ate this a lot. 
  • Pickles and Olives - Jill didn't like them but they helped me with Lunches. 
  • Potatoes -Yep, I was surprised by that one too  couldn't have fries unless they were cooked in coconut oil but baked they were awesome. 
  • Olive Oil -  We substituted this for everything.  Mostly oil and vinegar salad dressing and anywhere we used to use butter. 

There was more but this was the majority of what we used.   One of the coolest things was Almond Flour.. Crushed raw almonds made and amazing chicken nugget.   Olive Oil was consumed way more than normal and so was Coffee. 

So now we were ready for the final rule:  You do not need to count calories, no need to weigh, measure or portion and you can eat as much as you want of the approved foods. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STEP ON A SCALE AT ALL DURING THE WHOLE 30 DAYS!

The Process:

I hated coffee at the beginning,  love it now.  I absolutely CRAVED CAKE.  I dreamed about a black forest cake around day 10 and it stayed with me for about two weeks.   I was hungry a lot but not uncomfortably so.  I snacked a lot and ate a ton of food but by day 21 I could really feel the difference.  I literally felt better, amazingly different.   This gave me a level of motivation towards a diet that I had never felt before. 

The most horrifying thing about the process was eating out.  We avoided eating out except out of necessity.  We could eat almost anything but the salad dressing had to be olive oil and vinegar and we had to be super careful about sauces.  Everything is cooked in butter and oils that are bad for you.  It is also amazing how many things come with cheese on them. We traveled to the upper peninsula and this part was really difficult. But Jill and I ate a ton of nuts, fruit and meats.  Good meals, although simple. We cooked with olive oil and coconut oil. Baked a lot of potatoes and cooked a number of eggs. This diet was simple and as long as I got the mindset that people eating anything on the DO NOT EAT list were suicidal and poisoning themselves it was all good.   Truly the only downside was when I forgot to pack lunch.  You cannot find healthy stuff in a convenience store, gas station or fast food joint.  Don't kid yourself, it isn't there.  At first the thought was that it would be the longest 30 days of my life.  A week into it each day was better than the last. 

Not to get too into the details but lets just say the first two weeks were horrible on the body processes and leave it at that.    Eating healthy after all the crap that I used to eat shocked my system something fierce but I did not get sick from the flu or rotavirus so that is a definite plus.  

The Result:

Bottom line is that I would like everyone that I care about who is struggling with their weight or  "feeling old" to try this.   This program worked better than I ever hoped or dreamed it would.  I feel fantastic.  Today was the last day of my whole 30 and I now have the knowledge of what can poison me.  My stress is gone, my aches and pains are limited to strains from exercise. I have more energy and I feel mentally sharper.  Most of all I lost 18.6 lbs in the 30 days and I am under 200lbs for the first time in 5 years.  I am 28 lbs off my heaviest and my waist size has shrunk by two.   I live for results and this one changed a lot for me.   I learned a lot about my diet and what works.  I do plan on taking a couple of weeks off from the strictness of it and try some foods sparingly to see what happens.  I like baked goods, Creme Brule, Chili,  Rum, Cheese, Ketchup and sushi.  

I hope they don't kill me. 

I will take it slow since I know my tolerance to bad foods will be lowered.  I would like to clean out my fridge and pantry without wasting it.  Giving it away feels like giving poison to a friend so I would rather "take one for the team" and get rid of it through limited consumption. 

There are things that I will not go back to.  I will keep drinking my coffee black.   I won't use butter if I can use olive oil instead.   I will keep nuts on hand for snacking and roast them myself.  I will reduce dairy and keep away from ice cream.   And I will not consume sugar if I don't have to. 

Like I said above I feel great.  There is an added benefit to knowing you will not have to go through your day in pain. The weight loss is something I would like to keep working on.   I am totally stoked about that.  And I have so much more added energy I may just have to start exercising.   Let me know if you have questions.  I love talking about the success that I have had with this.